Cincinnati Reds’ Burke Badenhop Quietly Putting Together Solid Year


Every single time Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price calls on Burke Badenhop to pitch in relief, I see a lot of tweets like this from fans:

Even when Badenhop comes in, shuts down opposing hitters, and has a quiet 1-2-3 inning, I still see a number of tweets like this:

So, I thought I should step in and defend Badenhop, because the man has been rock solid since April.

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There’s no denying that the first month of the season was a disaster for the 32-year-old. There were high hopes for Badenhop, as he was coming off a career-best season with the Boston Red Sox in which he had a 2.29 ERA, got batters to ground out 61 percent of the time they made contact, and induced 14 ground ball double plays. It was unreasonable to expect him to put up those kinds of numbers again, but no one expected him to be as bad as he was in April.

Nearly every time he stepped on the mound, Badenhop was lit up by opposing hitters. His velocity was down and his pitches were up in the strike zone, which resulted in hitters making hard contact a ridiculous 53.1 percent of the time, while making soft contact an even more ridiculous 3.1 percent of the time. Hitters were batting .457 against him and in only seven innings pitched, he allowed 12 runs on 16 hits, including two home runs. That left his ERA sitting at 15.43 and his WHIP at 2.71.

Badenhop’s poor start with his new team didn’t keep his manager from giving him the ball, and he’s rewarded Price’s patience. Over the last three months, he’s been the Reds third-best reliever behind J.J. Hoover and Aroldis Chapman. His velocity is back up to his career norms and his pitch location has been much better. The percentage of hard hit balls against him has gone down in every month, while his soft contact percentage has increased (both rates sat at 21.6 percent in July). The right-hander has allowed just seven runs in 33.2 innings since the start of May, sporting a 1.87 ERA and 1.07 WHIP while holding hitters to a .194 average and giving up no home runs.

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He’s currently on as good of a roll as he has been all season, as it’s been a month (July 3 vs. the Brewers) since the last time Badenhop allowed a run, and he’s allowed only four hits and six walks in his 10.1 innings over that time.

Badenhop hasn’t been an elite ground ball pitcher (49.3 percent, down from 55.0 percent for his career), nor has he been the double play machine the Reds had hoped for when they signed him to a one-year, $2.5 million contract in February, but it’s hard to argue with the results he’s had in the last three months. Unfortunately, Badenhop’s bad introduction with the Reds has stuck with many fans, but hopefully his perception begins to change as he continues to deal on the mound.

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